Water Resource Engineering and Management

Population growth and economic development continue to place increasing stress on global water resources, stresses that stem primarily from rising consumptive demands for limited supplies and increasing contaminant loads to natural waters.  Students doing research in the area of water resources engineering and management seek sustainable solutions to these challenges using a variety of computational and experimental approaches designed to produce results that can provide substantive guidance to policymakers.

Students in our group work on projects that are largely motivated by concerns over increasing water scarcity and/or declining water quality.  The rising cost of developing new water supplies and society’s growing intolerance of the environmental impacts of large-scale water supply projects (e.g., reservoirs) are making it more difficult for communities to meet growing water demand. Strategies that integrate consideration of both technical and economic principles are required if society is to manage its increasingly scarce water resources in a manner that is economically efficient and environmentally sustainable.  Population growth also leads to declining water quality as greater contaminant loads are imposed on surface and groundwaters. These loads can come in the form of biological, organic or inorganic contaminants, and can originate from either point (e.g.,wastewater treatment plant) or nonpoint (e.g., stormwater runoff) sources. In many cases, a better understanding of the nature and origins of these contaminants is required before improved methods for managing water quality can be developed.

Addressing these issues generally involves two components, (1) understanding and characterizing the natural processes that govern the affected systems, and (2) developing solutions that incorporate consideration of both the technical and economic challenges posed by a particular problem. These objectives are accomplished through a combination of experimental studies and/or mathematical modeling, with research into one (or both) of these areas forming the basis for graduate study in water resource engineering and management.